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Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Thumbsucking and Pacifier Use

Children learn and explore new things by touching, tasting and seeing. Babies suck their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or objects to feel secure and experience their new world.

How Can Thumbsucking Affect My Child's Teeth?

The concern with thumbsucking is it can cause problems with mouth development, the roof of the mouth and alignment of the permanent teeth. Pacifiers can affect the teeth similarly, but this is an easier habit to quit.

It's important to pay attention to your child's thumbsucking force. If a child passively rests their thumb in their mouth, they are less likely to have problems compared to aggressive thumbsuckers.

When Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Children generally quit sucking their thumb between 2-4 years old, or by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to come in. If you notice changes in your child’s baby teeth, or have concerns with development due to thumbsucking, feel free to call our office at 614-882-2249.

How Can I Help My Child Quit Thumbsucking?
  • Positive reinforcement: praise your child when they do not suck their thumb.

  • Children usually suck their thumbs to soothe or comfort themselves: discover how to help ease anxiety and comfort your baby.

  • If your child is older than four, have them help choose how to quit thumbsucking.

  • Dr. Brad and Dr. Heidi can explain what might happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

  • If these tips don’t work, try gently bandaging the thumb or putting a sock over your child's hand at night. In some cases, the use of a mouth appliance may be necessary.

If you have questions or you would like to schedule a consultation with

Dr. Brad or Dr. Heidi, please feel free to call 614-882-2249.

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